Learning to bond: The successful reintroduction of a beluga whale calf

Steve Aibel
Presentation given at the 2016 Conference

Maternal care behaviors and calf following in cetaceans may be innately influenced, as they are incredibly important for the survival of the species. In addition, the correct expression of maternal behavior and calf behavior likely depends on maternal experience and offspring response.

In the summer of 2013, two beluga whale calves were born at SeaWorld San Antonio. The first cow to give birth did not exhibit any maternal responses such as nursing, paired swimming or contact with the calf and so her calf was introduced to a surrogate. This presentation will describe some successful procedures that were used to keep the calf alive, while helping the beluga whale pair bond.

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